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Odd problem with electric trains

Discussion in 'Cars and Transportation' started by mpt, Dec 19, 2009.

  1. mpt

    mpt Electrics are back

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    Eurostar the operators of the 'Channel Tunnel' connecting the UK with mainland Europe have described the current failure of four trains in the tunnel on Electrical problems. Looking forward to finding out what it was exactly, they're saying that it was to do with the cold northern air in France as they hit the warm air in the tunnel... Condensation?

    BBC story: BBC News - Thousands freed from Channel Tunnel after trains fail
     
  2. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    The Register has more on the subject: Can anyone explain the chunnel fiasco? • The Register

    It's all very strange. There's a competing theory that it was ice build-up underneath the trains that then dislodged in the warmth of the tunnel and fell into cables or air brake pipes. However, we've had worse weather and it hasn't previously happened to this extent. Also, you'd think that the first train would clear the line for the following ones, but 5 failed. Interesting that the other trains on that line, built by Hitachi, have had no problems at all when going between cold Kent and the tunnels under London.

    (There's a third, conspiracy theory that it is strange that this happened on a day when British drivers were on strike and were being covered for by French and Belgian crew...)

    I'm afraid it's the usual story of people and authorities not being prepared again. People will abandon their cars at the first snowflake. Honestly, I've driven in worse on the autobahn.
     
  3. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    Apparently this:

    article-0-07AD8DF0000005DC-985_634x647.jpg


    It all seems a bit flaky to me.
     
  4. mpt

    mpt Electrics are back

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    Very flaky... a light drizzle might see the same volume of water entering the sides no?
     
  5. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    You'd think so.

    Snow freezing solid in the filters and blocking the airflow, causing equipment to overheat and then shutdown I can understand. Their explanation I cannot.

    I'm pretty sure the "technical fix" was to wait until the weather got better.
     
  6. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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  7. mpt

    mpt Electrics are back

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    Re: Electric planes (and some trains)

    I don't wish to come over all communist but, this is exactly what governments can & should do around the globe. "government exists to do the deeds the people want but dare not ask for"
     
  8. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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  9. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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  10. mpt

    mpt Electrics are back

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    Re: Electric planes (and some trains)

    Not looking to do a complete U-turn but, interesting comments in todays BBC Business Daily report on the real environmental impact of trains concluding that trains may in fact be less efficient than cars by 2025.

    http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/bizdaily/bizdaily_20091229-0832a.mp3
     
  11. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    #12 dpeilow, Dec 30, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2009
    Hmm. The "free marketeer" makes many of the arguments that have come up here in the UK over the past couple of years. Most are complete FUD, one is less so.

    Firstly, to say that cars will become more efficient while trains will not is complete rubbish. Significant work has and is being done to reduce weight, improve aerodynamics, introduce regen braking and hybrid drivetrains where needed. Furthermore, using current American designs as a starting point in this argument is also completely disingenuous - he should look to Japan if he wants to see what is possible in terms of emissions and weight per passenger in rolling stock design.

    Next he talks about cost and capacity vs. highways. We can dismiss the "tens of billions to get to 90mph" argument on numerous grounds - not least because the freight companies will fight it. New build lines are expensive, but to say they are significantly more so than highways is not true. Recent experience in the UK says they are approximately equal. The construction costs of motorways in the UK are more than comparable to high speed rail - for example the widening of the M25 by just one lane was put on hold after reaching a cost of £5.5bn for 102km.

    On the issue of capacity he is also not telling the truth. The current maximum capacity of HSR is one 1,300 seat train per 2.5 minutes. That's 31,200 seats per hour, per track. The Chinese know this and are building huge stations to cope. On the other hand, a 6 lane highway is considered busy if it is carrying 100,000 cars per day (the total of both directions). That's around 16,666 cars per lane per day. If we assume two thirds of the traffic passes in four peak hours, and every car has 4 passengers, that's just 11,000 passengers per lane per hour. We all know what driving is like on roads that are that busy - hesitant progress normally - but even if traffic was flowing at a constant 70mph (110km/h), and we allow 25 metres per car (car length plus "thinking distance"), we get a capacity of 4,400 cars or 17,600 passengers per hour. That's about half the rail maximum capacity per lane.

    But this is not the whole story, as it does not take into account load factors. TGV load factors are around 80%, whereas (at least in the UK) the load factor of motorway traffic is just under 1.5 passengers per car. I don't have such data for the US, but I doubt it's the 4 per car claimed in the interview. You can do the math(s)...

    Speed-for-speed, a fully loaded train will have lower emissions per seat-km than even a loaded Prius. Looked at another way, a British train travelling at 125mph (200 km/h) has emissions of 25g per seat-km, but for a much higher average speed. Projected emissions for future lighter trains on future electricity generation mix are under 10g per seat-km [1].


    However, introducing a high speed rail vs. car comparison is a common tactic used by opposers and a large piece of FUD. They are trying to compare a vehicle - the car - typically travelling at 75mph with one that can now cruise three times faster at 225mph (and is getting faster still). In other words, when I drive up to Edinburgh it takes at least 6 hours non-stop, whereas the plans being put forward for new rail lines in the UK reduce the journey time to just over 2 hours. Thus the real competition is from aircraft, where the emissions per seat km are much higher - around 75g for a modern, fully loaded aircraft on this length of route[2].

    Where this guy's arguments do have some degree of merit is when discussing emissions from track construction. These are not trivial [1] and based on current figures amount to the equivalent of around 30 London-Edinburgh flights per day when "amortised" over the lifetime of the assets (depending on the type of track used). This comes not only from the concrete and aluminium used (the aluminium posts that hold the power supply wires being a non-trivial source - perhaps they should look at alternatives), but also from the machinery used in the construction. Maybe they should look at EV diggers and bulldozers :smile:.

    However, this needs to be put into context. In October [3], 483,000 people travelled by air from London to Edinburgh and London to Glasgow. That's the equivalent of 83 fully loaded Boeing 737s per day [2]. Remember, these are just flights to and from those two cities. Factor in all the other Scottish and intermediate locations served by the railway and the number of jets required would be much, much higher. Looked at another way, if the railway is operating at full capacity then the amount of CO2 released from construction per seat-km is about 1.1g (derived from [1]). Even if there is no growth in traffic from today - and the new railway is vastly under-utilised - there is still a lot of scope for rail to reduce emissions over the status quo. Any high-speed rail company should just be honest about this issue from the outset, as certainly the media have already been (badly) reporting on it in the UK.


    The accusation is also made that HSR is not profitable. We've discussed this further up the thread. Over the long term, these lines are profitable even if the system they sit within is not (France for example). Take the privatised Japanese system - it is profitable enough that one of the companies there is pushing ahead with building a $58.8bn self-financed maglev track which it plans to open in 2025 [4].


    Personally, I've travelled up to Scotland fairly regularly over the past 10 years. Sometimes I need to drive, a couple of times I've had to fly, but mostly I will take the train for a number of reasons, of which emissions is a big one. If this new system halves the journey time for a modest increase in (rail) emissions (again, assuming no improvement to today's technology), but at the same time wipes out domestic air routes, then I both support and will use it. But there will still be occasions when I need to drive - as I'm sure everyone else appreciates, you sometimes need to carry a lot of luggage and trade off journey time accordingly - and hence that's why I want my 400 mile EV :smile:.


    The bottom line is that high speed rail will face opposition from many quarters. For obvious reasons there have already been murmurings here from the roads lobby, the oil lobby, the air lobby and of course, NIMBYs. In the States you can add to that the existing rail industry, which (contrary to the BBC piece) is alive and well and profitably transporting freight, thank you very much. The last thing they want is to have to share or upgrade tracks to carry high speed passenger trains. All sorts of regulatory hurdles have been and will be put in the way.

    Expect the anti-lobby to put out all sorts of FUD to get the environmentalists on side. It looks like it has already started.


    [1] Network Rail environmental report. In-depth analysis of all environmental aspects of conventional and high-speed rail. Plenty of detail for the interested reader.

    [2] http://www.flybe.com/pdf/eco_labels_make_own.pdf

    [3] UK Airport Statistics: 2009 - 10 | Data | Economic Regulation

    [4] Rail-News.com – Japan to commence work on maglev line by 2015
     
  12. mpt

    mpt Electrics are back

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    Great write up; thanks, my take away is:

    ICE: non-viable as part of a future transport strategy

    EV: Local commuter vehicle with option for use on longer journeys when personal desire chooses schedule flexibility over time to arrive.

    Traditional fossil fueled train: non-viable as part of a future transport strategy.

    Electric train: Ideal for inner city commuting and medium to longer journeys over land, ideally, 100-1000 miles.

    Air: Last resort for intercontinental and long distances where journey is time-critical.

    Sea travel: Freight only.

    The only conflict left in my mind is the desire to see more freight being delivered on rail where the lower speeds required net huge fuel savings.
     
  13. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    I wouldn't be conflicted about this: Even using diesel, rail freight has an order of magnitude less emissions per tonne-km than road haulage.

    http://www.greenlogistics.org/SiteResources/d82cc048-4b92-4c2a-a014-af1eea7d76d0_CO2%20Emissions%20from%20Freight%20Transport%20-%20An%20Analysis%20of%20UK%20Data.pdf

    Rail Freight - IMechE


    attachment.php?attachmentid=528&d=1262368561.jpg


    In fact, even the long tailpipe argument is showing up (with perhaps more justification):


    Which is a good thing as it isn't economic to wire up every route, so they will be in use for a while yet (unless someone wants to put few million dollars worth of batteries in a locomotive - perhaps not as daft as it sounds given their typical costs).
     

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  14. mpt

    mpt Electrics are back

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    So what is the right use for existing rail lines? Freight now and freight forever?

    I could see that making sense and tieing in with the sea freight; the link being large volumes of heavy goods. It doesn't make sense to move people on ships, especially not cruise ships at 16.7 MPG IMP, 13.9 MPG US (Fuel efficiency in transportation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) however much I'd love to take Queenies boat on my next trip to the UK but neither does it make sense perhaps for large goods to be moved at great speed on fast trains or on lightweight trucks.
     
  15. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    #16 dpeilow, Jan 2, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
    Freight and where appropriate, local services. That's the way the French have gone and the argument used by supporters of new lines here.

    And maybe some of this:

    [​IMG]
     

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